How Long Do Red Eared Slider Turtles Live in Captivity & The Wild?

Red Eared Slider turtles are probably the most well-known turtle species in the world and they have been kept as pets since the mid-1800s. Because these hardy little aquatic turtles are so popular, many people wonder what their lifespan is in captivity vs the wild.

Of course, there’s plenty of conflicting information out there about how long they live. Some say that sliders can live up to 100 years in captivity and others say that the average lifespan of a slider turtle in captivity is closer to 20 years.

However, to determine exactly how long sliders live, we need to look at captive life vs wildlife expectancy to get an accurate answer.

How Long Do Red-Eared Slider Turtles Live in the Wild?

red eared slider in the wildWhile it is unknown how long red-eared slider turtles live outside captivity, studies have shown that wild turtles living along lakes, ponds, and rivers often live to 25 or 30 years old. However, some red-eared slider turtles have reached up to 50 years old.

A few turtle species can even live as long as 100 years! In general, though, most small water animals do not live very long because they are preyed upon by larger animals that inhabit their environment. For example, many Red Eared Slider eggs are devoured by fish like catfish. Other factors affecting a turtle’s lifespan include disease, climate change, and natural disasters.

How Long Do Red-Eared Slider Turtles Live in Captivity?

Although red-eared slider turtles (Trachemys scripta elegans) are among the most common pet species, they can live up to 25 years or more in captivity; there is no information on how long they may live in their natural environment.

However, they have a low survival rate in captivity once they are over 20 years old. Another interesting fact about red-eared sliders is that males typically outlive females by several years, unlike many other types of animals and plants.

For example, 2–3-year-old male red-eared sliders outlive 1–2-year-old female red-eared sliders. However, for those turtles between 4–5 years of age, there is no difference in life expectancy based on gender.

The life span of these aquatic turtles varies depending upon what type of food they eat and whether or not you choose to keep them indoors or outdoors.

How to Increase Your Red-Eared Slider Lifespan

Here are some tips for caring for red-eared sliders so that your little turtles have a long and healthy life in captivity.

1). Provide Your Turtle an Adequate Sized Tank

Red-eared slider turtles should have a minimum length of 20 gallons of water. This will give them enough room to swim and bask, plus it will help keep their water clean by preventing waste from sitting on the bottom of their habitat.

It is also important to provide them with a large basking area to climb and dry off. Don’t consider adopting or buying a red-eared slider turtle if you can’t provide these habitats. You must be willing to properly care for these pets if you want them to live long enough.

2). Properly Take Care of Their Environment

Temperature can make all the difference in how long your turtle lives. Of course, turtles need both a high-temperature area and a cooler one. For example, in most places, 60 degrees Fahrenheit would be appropriate for your cold side, while 75 degrees Fahrenheit would suffice for your warm side. One way to achieve proper temperatures is by using heating lamps or bulbs and checking your lights regularly.

3). Make Sure Your Red Eared Slider Turtle Gets Plenty of Sunlight

Sunlight is vital to turtles living healthy. A good rule of thumb is at least 6 hours per day. However, some owners report that 10 hours per day has shown great results too! So, when choosing where to place your turtle, make sure it receives as much sun as possible.

4). Avoid Underfeeding or Overfeeding

This is something that pet owners are very guilty of. When their turtle isn’t eating, many people try tempting them with more food thinking that more food equals more energy. Unfortunately, research shows just the opposite—it turns out sliders prefer larger portions rather than constant feedings throughout their day. This makes sense because Red Eared sliders are able to go a long time without eating.

Feed your turtle only aquatic plants, worms, grubs, crickets, and insects. These are foods recommended by veterinarians. Avoid feeding them meat or fish because there is not enough nutritional value in those foods to support their health needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a Captive Red-Eared Slider Survive in the Wild?

Yes, a captive red-eared slider can survive just fine in the wild. Many of them do. How long they live is another question. Owners release many raised in captivity into bodies of water where they are ill-equipped to handle predatory fish and other hazards.

Others perish because they don’t know how to hunt, find food, or escape danger. In addition, because red-eared sliders don’t grow as fast or mature as quickly as some other species, it takes them longer to develop the survival skills needed to thrive outside of captivity.

Why Do Red-Eared Sliders Live Longer in the Wild?

Red-eared sliders are one of the most common turtles found in homes around the world.
When a red-eared slider survives the first few years in the wild, they experience a significant boost in their immune system and lifespan and can live as long as 30 years.

How Long Do Red-Eared Sliders Live in a Tank?

Several factors affect the lifespan of a Red-eared slider. The first is how large and strong a turtle is when born. A large, healthy baby turtle has a better chance of survival than one that’s smaller or appears weak.

The type of food and water also plays an important role in determining their lifespan in a tank.
Red-eared sliders need large tanks to provide enough space for swimming and an area to dry off when needed. Once these conditions are met, they can live up to 30 years when cared for properly.

How Do You Know If Your Red-Eared Slider Is Happy?

A red-eared slider turtle may have various physical issues, but you may be able to determine if your pet is happy simply by observing its behavior. For example, suppose your turtle seems shy and withdrawn.

It might not be getting everything it needs from its environment or be unhappy about something else. But, on the other hand, a happy red-eared slider will bask frequently and swim energetically whenever possible.